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Anglo-Scandinavian cross, St Mary's churchyard

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Anglo-Scandinavian cross, St Mary's churchyard

List entry Number: 1012670

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Staffordshire

District: East Staffordshire

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Rolleston on Dove

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 13-Nov-1963

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Jun-1995

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 21600

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

High crosses, frequently heavily decorated, were erected in a variety of locations in the eighth, ninth and tenth centuries AD. They are found throughout northern England with a few examples further south. Surviving examples are of carved stone but it is known that decorated timber crosses were also used for similar purposes and some stone crosses display evidence of carpentry techniques in their creation and adornment, attesting to this tradition. High crosses have shafts supporting carved cross heads which may be either free-armed or infilled with a 'wheel' or disc. They may be set within dressed or rough stone bases called socles. The cross heads were frequently small, the broad cross shaft being the main feature of the cross. High crosses served a variety of functions, some being associated with established churches and monasteries and playing a role in religious services, some acting as cenotaphs or marking burial places, and others marking routes or boundaries and acting as meeting places for local communities. Decoration of high crosses divides into four main types: plant scrolls, plaiting and interlace, birds and animals and, lastly, figural representation which is the rarest category and often takes the form of religious iconography. The carved ornamentation was often painted in a variety of colours though traces of these pigments now survive only rarely. The earliest high crosses were created and erected by the native population, probably under the direction of the Church, but later examples were often commissioned by secular patrons and reflect the art styles and mythology of Viking settlers. Several distinct regional groupings and types of high cross have been identified, some being the product of single schools of craftsmen. There are fewer than 50 high crosses surviving in England and this is likely to represent only a small proportion of those originally erected. Some were defaced or destroyed during bouts of iconoclasm during the 16th and 17th centuries. Others fell out of use and were taken down and reused in new building works. They provide important insights into art traditions and changing art styles during the early medieval period, into religious beliefs during the same era and into the impact of the Scandinavian settlement of the north of England. All well-preserved examples are identified as nationally important.

The Anglo-Scandinavian cross at Rolleston survives well and is the only known Staffordshire example of a cross with a complete cross-head which remains attached to its shaft. The Scandinavian-influenced decoration on both the shaft and the head provide an important contribution towards an understanding of the regional and chronological variations in the design of early medieval crosses. While the cross-head and part of the shaft survive from the early medieval period, its erection in the churchyard and subsequent restoration illustrate its continued function as a standing monument and public amenity.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument includes an Anglo-Scandinavian stone cross located in the churchyard of St Mary's Church, Rolleston, 0.75m west of the church. The cross is of stepped form and is early medieval and modern in date. The monument includes the base, consisting of a plinth and two steps, of late 19th century date; and an early medieval shaft and cross-head which have been carved from a single block of stone. The steps are rectangular in plan and rest on a stone plinth. The shaft has been erected on the upper step and has a tapering, rectangular section. The shaft stands 0.9m high and is believed to represent the upper part of the early medieval cross-shaft. The southern face of the shaft retains evidence of decoration in the form of a plaitwork interlacement enclosed within a panel; while the faint outline of a rectangular panel can be distinguished on the western face. The cross-head is of the ringed type and has a diameter of 0.92m. Its four arms are not continuous but end as curled knobs at the extremeties. These join with one another, and the arms thus form, on the outside, an indented circle. The outer circumference of the lower part of the head is ornamented with single cord interlacement set within moulded panels and slight traces of an interlacing triquetra (an ornament of three interlaced arcs) are visible on the southern arm. The western face of the cross-head is decorated with a carved central boss and an encircling ring. The full height of the cross is approximately 2.3m. The protected area includes a 1m margin around the north, west and east sides of the cross.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Pape, T, 'Transactions of the North Staffordshire Field Club' in Rectangular-shafted pre-Norman crosses of North Staffordshire, , Vol. 81, (1947), 45

National Grid Reference: SK 23548 27718

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1012670 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 18-Nov-2017 at 11:45:09.

End of official listing